Once upon a time, Serena messed up a potion. (Flash Fiction # 109 -- Trouble Brewing)
Actually, she almost always messed up a potion. However, in this particular case, it hadn't even been her fault. She'd had a nearly perfect base potion half a year ago ... and then her cat familiar -- Buffy -- had knocked some feathers into the pot and then fell in herself. The potion flew everywhere, and now Buffy had wings. So did the table, rug, a few cups, and even Selena.
The problem was the mice. Selena hadn't mentioned them to her mother right away, but they were kind of apparent within a few days. And mice breed quickly. Turned out winged mice make more winged mice.
They also get to be somewhat brave and vindictive with wings.
"Behind you, Buffy!" Serena shouted as she swept in a circle.
Buffy cursed and dived for the water. Water was not her favorite thing in the world, at least not when it came to being in it, but one glance at the formation of twenty mice had quickly convinced her there was no other choice. Still snarling both human and cat curses, she folded her wings tight against her body and dived into the sea.
Serena had made a circle and came up behind the mice. She had noted that while mice were vindictive, they weren't particularly smart and once they had their sights focused on something like a cat. The cats on the ground had better luck avoiding them since they could slink from spot to spot, but Buffy disdained putting her paws on the ground these days and suffered the attacks as a result. The mice wanted her taken down.
The only way to take the mice down, other than straight out killing them, was to get close enough to touch them with a new potion that both destroyed the wings and gently dropped them to the ground. Serena swept up with her arms extended and first herded them inland, and then spread a cloud of dust over them. Mice began dropping down in twos and threes, though a couple wily ones managed to avoid the potion and flapped away as fast as their little wings could take them.
Serena glided down and landed on the beach beside the sputtering and hissing cat who fought the tide to get to the shore. Serena took pity on the cat and fetched her out of the water. Buffy gave a sigh of relief.
"They're getting crafty," Buffy said, her eyes narrowing. "I never saw the little spots coming with the sun at their backs."
Serena nodded agreement. "I got all but two of them, though. I doubt there's more than a dozen left."
"Until next week, when there will be fifty of them," Buffy said. "A shame cats don't breed as quickly. I could --"
"Not something I even really want to consider, Buffy." Serena saw the look on the cat's face, though. She had to think fast. "Besides, if you had kittens, you'd be tied to them -- and grounded -- for weeks. Months."
"That's true. So how are we going to deal with them instead? Your mother, and the rest of the villagers, are getting kind of worked up."
Serena nodded. They had reason to be upset. Mice were getting into everything.
"What we need is to build a better mousetrap," Serena said. Then she smiled as she looked at Buffy. "And I think I know the perfect bait."
"I'm not going to like this, am I?" she said with a sigh.
"Oh, I don't know. It might be fun for both of us."
Her ears perked up.
It wasn't long before they put the plan into effect. Serena had diced some apples for dinner when she spied the two little mice in the corner, their wings folded close in hopes she wouldn't notice. Serena glanced their way and made no sign of having seen them at all.
Her mother, stirring a simple potion by the hearth, had noted them, too.
"How long until Buffy's wing recovers?" her mother asked.
"I don't know. She twisted when she hit the water." Serena tried not to grin. "I hope she recovers quickly. I need her to help with the mice!"
"Where is she now?"
"Out in the garden resting in the sun."
Serena heard the mice leaving. It wouldn't be long now. Serena went up to her room and sat by the window.
The mice took their own good time about doing something. Sunset was not far off before they began gathering in the trees, tiny wings fluttering in excitement as they tried -- a little too successfully -- to sound like sparrows.
From all Serena could tell, Buffy might truly be asleep this time. If she messed this one up ... well, they'd both be in even more trouble, Serena supposed. She tried to imagine what more trouble would look like and decided she didn't want to know.
As though at some signal, the mice in the trees fell silent.
Buffy lifted her head, blinking lazily. Her tail thumped once, and she laid her head back down --
The mice leapt from the trees and swarmed downward. Buffy gave a startled cry and leapt upward, fluttering a bit before she fell to the ground. Drama Queen, Serena thought. With a pitiful meow, the cat darted through the arbor that stood between two high hedges. The mice formation shifted like an arrow, and they swept through the arbor --
And Serena let the dust fall from the bags hidden among the drooping leaves.
Startled, wingless mice drifted to the ground. There had to be over a hundred, and they stood there in shock as Buffy made a slow turn and walked back, her tail high and her eyes bright.
"I suggest," she said softly. "That you run."
They darted in all directions. Buffy didn't even bother to follow them.
So they handled that problem. Now Serena just had to live with an insufferable flying cat who thought she could act.
Sometimes you can't win.